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Showing posts from 2011

Highlights of 2011

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What an incredible year 2011 has been for me and my professional development! While I was nothing more than an ordinary yet enthusiastic lurker in 2010,  I  dared and I did in 2011!

Despite being a shy presenter I plucked up the courage to present at two ELT conferences and a Teach Meet and I gave a talk on new technologies in education to teachers in two schools in Zagreb.

I'm extremely proud of the series of webinars for students that Sonja and I launched in the spring. There were 13 webinars that I co-hosted and/or presented at and they proved to be extremely successful, useful and popular among the student population. Besides student webinars, I delievered two webinars for teachers, entitled School Without Walls and Safer Internet Day - How They Do It. I was a co-presenter at the webinar about the Microsoft Partners in Learning Institue 2011.

The highlights of the year have been by far the two TeachMeets  that I co-organized and co-hosted with Sonja and Bart. The …

Good vibrations

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If anything deserves to be described as a truly out of this world experience, then the two yesterday's webinars should be it! The iTDi webinar and the TeachMeet Int'l definitely set new standards for professional development and I'd like to express my heartfelt thanks to all the speakers and participants who shared their experiences, ideas and best practices and sent out a great deal of good vibrations into the cyberspace.


I'm especially grateful to Bart and Sonja, my co-hosts for the TeachMeet Int'l  for their wholehearted support before, during and after the event. The Twitter back channeling was absolutely amazing and I extend my huge thanks to Jeannette @7MrsJames for compiling  the tweetdoc  and for being there with us although it was middle of the night in Australia. Jeannette has written a wonderful post about this special day, and so did Vicky, who was one of the TeachMeet Int'l esteemed presenters.








Just a perfect day for webinars

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I first presented at a webinar a year ago - and got hooked immediately! When it comes to webinars, it doesn't matter if  I'm a moderator, a presenter or only a listener, I simply love them. They're really contagious - you do it once - you want to do it all the time! And on Saturday Dec. 17 there is going to be a real treat for all the webinar fans out there. Two fanatastic events will take place in the virtual world: 



At 10:00 am CET,  iTDi will be hosting a special webinar What's a Teacher? moderated by Shelly Terrellwith live online presentations by Scott Thornbury, Luke Meddings, Marcos Benevides, Steven Herder, Chuck Sandy, and John Fanselow. 300 teachers from 57 countries have registered for the event. Are you one of them too?





Immediately after the ITDi webinar, at 2:0 pm CET, Sonja, Bart and I will be moderating our first virtual Teach Meet Int'l. In this webinar, 25 speakers from 15 countries will be sharing their ideas and projects in  3-minute present…

What is GFTW, anyway?

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I feel elated and excited because my  wiki Greetings From The World has been nominated for the Edublog Awards 2011! This is the third time in a row that it has been nominated and if you take a look at the sidebar you'll see that GFTW is the proud winner of the 2009 and 2010 Eddies.

It started with a tweet about Glogster by Shelly Terrell . I liked this tool so much that  I immediately created my own glogster called My Magic Wand a.k.a Web 2.0. On the very next day I introduced it to my students who loved it even more than I did and a new project was launched. Three months later it was nominated for the Edublog Awards! I felt as if I had been nominated for an Oscar Award and I will never forget that December night when the winners were announced. At that time there were 10 participating schools in the project. A year later we were joined by another 8 schools and this year we have grown again - for the time being there are 29 schools from 6 continents with more than 500 students wh…

My fav piece of tech

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After having taken the poll about using technology in the classroom on the Facebook page of the International Teacher Development Institute, I'd like to recommend my favorite web 2.0 tool that my students and I used - and liked - the most over the past year.

Wikispaces is definitely Number 1 on my list. I started using wikis three years ago, then moved from there to blogs (I tried all of them: wordpress, edublogs and blogger) and the Google sites as well. But this year I returned to the wiki - I think wikis convey the true essence of Web 2.0 - collaboration! It's amazing how easily we can work with students and teachers from all parts of the world. Even teachers who aren't tech-savvy can easily use it and keep it running smoothly. Here's my Greeting from the world wiki, which has connected more than 500 students and educators from across six continents.


In October 2011, I set up a virtual classrooms for my second-year students where we do the tasks that accompany the …

A tweet that made a lesson

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Yesterday evening this tweet  grabbed my attention

and it brought me to an amazing lesson which I did in my class today. The author is Ian James, a teacher with fantastic ideas and great lesson plans.

What would you do.... if you came across these videos? is a lesson on 2nd conditional in a completely different and very real kind of way. And it came as if on cue, because I've just finished the conditionals with my students. What's more, I'm their classroom  teacher (something of an advisor or home room teacher) and we've been discussing bullying and violent behaviour among teenagers quite a lot lately and the video that we saw this morning triggered an interesting discussion on teen dating violence - during which they used 2nd conditional without noticing that they were actually practising a grammatical concept.

Following Ian's suggestion, my students will watch one of these thought-provoking videos at home and next time they'll role-play different situations.…

#eddies2011 - my nominees

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It's this time of the year again: The 2011 Edublog Awards are on! I'm particularly fond of the eddies, they are so dear to my heart - for two reasons: Firstly, because I'm extremely proud of my wiki which has been recognized with the Best educational wiki award twice in a row, and secondly, because I'm given a chance to let the world know about the distinguished educators who have inspired, enthused and motivated me over the past year - or years, as a matter of fact. Here they are:


Best individual blog:Teacher Reboot Campby Shelly TerrellBest individual tweeter:@evab2001Best group blog:Take a photo and ...Best new blog:A journée  in languageby Brad Patterson Best ed tech / resource sharing blog:Free Tech For Teachers by Richard ByrneMost influential blog post:Teacher Development 2.0 by Steven Herder on Barbara Sakamoto's Teaching VillageBest twitter hashtag: #eltpicsBest teacher blog:Vicky Loras's Blog Best School Administrator blog:The Principal of Change by G…

TESOL France sessions

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At TESOL France my greatest wish was to be omnipresent and to attend different sessions at the same time! Because  with 68 attractive talks and workshops given by amazing educators from 27 countries we were literally spoilt for choice. But in the end, a choice had to be made, regardless of how difficult it was to decide which session to go to.

Fortunately, the post-conference buzz is still going on all over the blogosphere and twitterverse with blog posts, tweets, videos and photos of the speakers we didn't get a chance to see, so that they've all come alive in Vicky's posts on Day 1,  Day 2 and Day 3, in Ceri's Echoes of Paris,  in Brad's #TESOLfr made me think thrice and Shelly's Sharing Stories. Here are some of the most interesting thoughts, ideas, activities and links that I learned from the speakers whose sessions I attended.

I consider myself to be a true lifelong learner but Stephen  Brewer added two new dimensions to learning: lifewide learning and li…

My TESOL France presentation

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I just arrived from Paris where I attended the 30th TESOL France conference, which was perfectly organized by the wonderful Bethany Cagnol and her amazing team. Those three days were absolutely fabulous.

I'm delighted not only because I was there, but also because I met many of my Twitter friends in person. Another thing is that my presentation went well, especially as it was my first international presentation ever.
I'm deeply grateful to all the teachers who came to my talk, especially to

my iTDI family - Chuck Sandy, Anna Musielak, Anna Loseva, Vicky Loras and Vladimira Michalkova,
my wonderful Twitter and Facebook friends Valentina Dodge, Elizabeth Anne, Helen Noire and Sue Annan.
Special thanks go to Sue Lyon Jones who inspired me to create my own tests and quizzes
and Shelly Terrell, my good fairy of the internet, without whom I would never be where I am now.

Here's the slideshare of my talk. I hope you find some useful tools for creating online quizzes, tests and p…

My story: Vicky's blog challenge

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Vicky Loras has recently started a new blog challenge What's your story? Vicky invited teachers from around the world to share their stories about the changes they've made that helped them become a better educator or a better person. Vicky herself has made some big changes in her life and so have so many other educators, people who I know from Twitter and Facebook and who took up the challenge and wrote amazing posts about their amazing lives.

Do I lead such an amazing life? Do I have such a story? I've never lived anywhere else but in Croatia. I've never done anything else but teach. I'm not thinking about a change in the future (no matter how much I would love to live in a foreign country - any foreign country, for that matter - and learn a new language by speaking it - but I simply don't have the courage to make such a move). But despite living and teaching in one country for a long, long time I have changed as an educator and a person because of - you guess…

A very sad iActivity

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It's not an exaggeration to say that today the world is deeply saddened by Steve Jobs' death. I admire him greatly because he was a dreamer who dared  to pursue his dream. As soon as I heard about this tragic loss, I knew I had to create an interactive exercise for all the students who regularly visit my website Moja  matura.  Inspired by Cecilia Lemos' speaking activity for advanced students, I created an open cloze test for  upper-intermediate students and Sonja, my friend and co-founder of the website put the finishing touches to it with some nice photos.

My activity is based on the Wikipeda's article on tributes to Steve Jobs given by notable Americans. When someone dies, it's so hard to find the right words to extend our condolences and this activity might be a great practice on how to do it.






Pretty girls, a determined boy and a Comenius project

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It was in October last year when a teacher from Turkey sent me a friendship request on Facebook. I gladly accepted it, as I really like connecting with teachers from all over the world. On the very same day, however, it turned out that he was not a teacher but a high school student. As my policy regarding student friends on Facebook is very strict, I defriended him immediately and explained clearly why I couldn't be his friend. The boy, however, didn't want to disappear from my Facebook page just like that and it took me several messages to find out what he really wanted. It turned out that he was eager to connect with students from Croatia because someone told him that Croatian girls were really pretty!

And so here we are now - his school and my school together with schools from six other European countries have just begun a Comenius project, entitled Imaging Europe, and at the end of October I'm going to Athens to meet the participating teachers. In January 2012, Croatia…

Icebreaker extension

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The September edition of the ELT Carnival was hosted by a brilliant teacher from Istanbul, Eva Büyüksimkeşyan. The theme of this month's carnival was Warmers, Fillers and 1st Week Activities - because for most of us September means a new beginning - and meeting new students. Eva has compiled a fantastic list of posts about amazing acitvities for the first day of school, which would ease the nervousness many teachers feel before entering a new classroom.

I contributed to the Carnival with my post - Who am I? - about one of my favourite icebreakers for large classes. But this year, I extended it a bit, and it worked very well with my students.

Even though it was their first English lesson of the new school year, I made an exception and gave them homework. (Yes, they looked at me with disbelief in their eyes, but didn't say anything, of course.) They had to write a short composition about themselves, about their family, their likes, dislikes and hobbies and about their wishes…

My first Teach Meet Session

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In Redmond I had a wonderful opportunity to present at my First Teach Meet ever. If you don't know what a Teach Meet is you can take a look at this video.


All our Teach Meet sessions were recorded on video, but while we're waiting for the videos to be uploaded, and following Fiona's suggestion, I made a screencast of my presentation on Live Meeting webinars for students.

Teach Meet session
- Watch more Tech Videos at Vodpod.

It's all about us

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It's been a week since we returned from Seattle, but the blogoshpere is teeming with posts about our visit, our experiences, our learning activities and excursions, about the wonderful time we spent together. In order not to miss any of the precious posts by my fellow PIL bloggers, I've decided to make a list of all the posts about the Institute that have been published up to now and I'll update the list on a regular basis. Please keep me posted about the new arrivals.

Here they are (in the order they appeared)

Bart: Ped Xing
Dan: Microsoft Magical Mystery Tour Part 15 - Amazing just the way you are (feel free to read parts 1-17 as well:-)))
Bram: Maken we chef koks van onze leerlingen of keukenhulpjes? ;  Follow the guide through the Microsoft Partners in Learning Institute and The balance between Microsoft, partners and learning
Arjana:  Seattle, Bellevue, Redmond,  Inspired, motivated and enthusiastic (+ 4 posts on my Croatian blog)
Jugoslava: First Partners in Learning Ins…

Inspired, motivated and enthusiastic

I just returned from Seattle where I attended a training for top 50 educators from 31 countries, organised by the Microsoft Partners in Learning Network. We were invited to Seattle to be trained to become teacher-trainers in innovative teaching and learning practices.

This past week has been absolutely fabulous. Whenever I come home from a trip, I always ask myself what the best moment of the trip was. But now it's simply impossible for me to pick out just one, because

- meeting 49 amazing teachers from 30 countries and learning from them (and there was so much that I could learn from each and every one of them)
- meeting the excellent organizers of the seminar who made the whole week as memorable as possible
- taking part in meticulously organised sessions and workshops
- getting familiar with so many wonderful tools that can be used in the classroom
- feeling inspired to apply what I have learned
- being ready to change my teaching practices and
- bubbling up with enthusiasm …

Top 50 in Redmond

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I feel tremendously proud and deeply honoured to be among the top 5o innovative educators from around the world who have been selected to attend the Microsoft Partners in Learning Institue 2011 in Seattle next week.

During this activity-packed week we'll be learning how to improve our own teaching practices, how to effectively teach with technology, how to prepare our students for life in the 21st century and how to train other teachers to implement innovative teaching and learning practices.

I'm immensely looking forward to it - to seeing the teachers who I have already met in Berlin and Cape Town, to meeting f2f those teachers who I have known only vritually but for such a long time, to meeting others from around the globe who I haven't had the opportunity to talk to yet, to learning from them all and together with all of them, to lifelong learning, which I'm so pasionate about, to flying across the Atlantic with a dozen of innovative educators, to travelling..... ye…

Not just an interview

When Chiew asked me if he could interview me for iasku, his new blog series, I just couldn't believe my eyes! Me? He wants ME in his interview? I mean, his first interview was with Scott Thornbury! THE Scott Thornbury! What could I talk about that people would be interested in hearing?

Of course, I felt immensely flattered and proud and a bit of a VIP and I agreed to do it. The interview was supposed to last up to 15 minutes, but I was kind of worried that I would say everything about my work in less than five. It turned out that it was too long so I had to cut out some of its parts!

When Chiew published it, I thought no one will ever watch it, let alone leave comments! But what a wonderful surprise! - So many fabulous people have tweeted about it, left nice comments and told me what a great educator I am. Yes, Chiew, I really feel rewarded. Thanks a million :-)

Discovering Cork

In January 2011 I applied for a two-week seminar about teaching pronunciation as part of the Comenius Professional Development Programme - and I got the grant! So, right now I'm in Cork, Ireland, together with 10 (mostly) English teachers from different EU countries (well, most of them are from Spain :-) and sharing the apartment in a student dorm with three nice teachers from Spain and one nice teacher from Romania.

What we did yesterday morning was being introduced to the other students, the teachers and the course itself, and in the afternoon we were given a task - to discover Cork. My group was made of a Spanish and a Danish teacher and our task was to explore the very centre - there where the shops and pubs are! This morning we showed our classmates what we had discovered and how beautiful the city of Cork is! Here's the preso:

Cork DiscoveryView more presentations from Arjana Blazic

Free webinars for students

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A month ago I blogged about a series of webinar presentations given by a bunch of enthusiastic Croatian teachers to high school students from all parts of the coutnry as part of the preparation for their exit exams. (More about it here.)

The webinars turned out to be a huge success both among the student and teacher population, so that we're now planning the second series of webinars for the next school year - but this time with even more teachers involved - because presenting online does not only pump up adrenalin, but it's also very contagious and addictive.

The number of attendees (or webinarees) shows that this type of e-learning is what students want and need. The number of downloads of the webinar recordings over a short period of only two months shows that we have struck the right chord:

No.of attendees: 998
No. of webinars: 13
No. of presenters and guests: 14
No. of downloads: 2525

That's the reason why we want to keep on doing it during the next school year as well. …

Collaboration and Fun

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Over the past two years I have met a lot of fantastic teachers from all parts of the world via Twitter. I often exchange tweets with many of them and I've always had a feeling that I know these people well. But then Brad Patterson (@brad5patterson) challenged his PLN to a series of interviews in which members of the PLN are asked five questions so that we can get to know them better. And I just couldn't stop reading the interviews with teachers who I thought I knew well. It turned out that there's more to them than the Twitter bio or the About page.

So I immediately wanted to know more about Eva Buyuksimkesyian.

Eva was one of the first teachers who I met on Twitter and who joined my glogster project. Her students made a dozen of wonderful glogs about Turkey and ever since that time I had been dreaming about visiting Istanbul. Our students also successfully collaborated in her award-winning project Celebr8UandMeDigitally. Together we tried to organize two skype chats for our…

Almost a State Alumna of the Month

I first published this post on my Croatian blog, but as I shared it on Facebook, my English-speaking friends saw it and after reading part of the post that was in English, they congratulated me on winning the award - but I didn't win any awards! I was only nominated for the State Alumni of the Month award at the Department of State. According to Ms. Odhuu, the E-Teacher Program Officer who nominated me for this award, I was in the top three in Europe and "the board liked me so much that they put an article about me up on the State Alumni website."

Because they have really written some nice things about me, I've decided to copy it here too. To be honest, this is kind of a show-offish post so you can just stop reading it. Now!

Croatian E-Teacher Alumna Creates Award Winning Websites to Engage English Learners

Posted on 2011-05-11 11:04 am
ZAGREB, Croatia -- Even before joining the E-Teacher Scholarship Program and completing the course “Building Teaching Skills through t…

Volunteers and webinars

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Have you ever wanted something so much that it almost hurt? No, nothing personal, but something for a greater good. And you knew that you could achieve it only with the help of a bunch of other people? And when those people responded with an enthusiasm and commitment that matched yours, did you feel that you could fly and touch the sky?

Well, I just did! Sonja, my friend and the co-cofunder of Moja matura and I came up with a terrific idea of organizing free webinars for school-leavers from all over the country. In the webinars, given by teachers who teach different subjects, students would be able to get all the necessary info on the upcoming school-leaving exams and also ask as many questions as they wanted. So all we had to do was to find a platform for free webinars and teachers who would be willing to present online - for free.

And we managed to do it! The Croatian MS Partners in Learning community kindly provided as many Live meeting rooms as we needed, eight teachers from IX. gi…

Avatars, autoshapes and digital identity

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One the tasks that our Embedded-in-EU students had to do as part of our collaborative project was to create their own digital identity. First they discussed the importance of their own sensible and responsible behaviour in the cyberspace. Then they watched the Lorenzo video clip and we showed them our own examples of how to use different photo editors and MS Autoshapes to create their internet ID.
We turned all their avatars into this PhotoSory slide show, which shows how creative and imaginative our students are.

Writing muses

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Kelly Tenkely from iLearn Technology has recently blogged about The Bookshelf Muse, a blog that every English teacher should know about.

The Bookshelf Muse is run by two writers, Becca Puglisi and Angela Ackerman or better to say two muses who unselfishly share their knowledge and want to help all those writers who suffer from writer's block. On their blog you can find several comprehensive thesauruses with lists of all the words and expressions that might come in handy when writing a blog post, a short story or just an ordinary descriptive essay.

The Bookshelf Muse can be really useful for English language learners on the (upper-)intermediate to advanced level. Not only do the muses create lists of words used to describe the sight, the sounds, the smell, the taste or the touch, but they also provide helpful hints and tips on how to improve your writing skills.

I highly recommend the Bookshelf Muse:

Some thoughts on ISTEK

Last week I had a great privilege to attend the 2nd ISTEK ELT conference in Istanbul. Upon coming back I wanted to write a blog post about it, but then I thought Prezi might be a bit more convenient for me to say what it was like.


ISTEK ELT Conference on Prezi

A tweet up

Yesterday was my second Twitter birthday. I got the most wonderful present ever – a tweet up in Istanbul! Who could have imagined it two years ago when I signed up for Twitter with a nickname that still sounds so meaningless, but which actually says who I am and where I from?

Yesterday I met my virtual Twitter friends in person for the first time, but it felt as if I'd known them for my whole life. We all came to Istanbul to attend the 2nd ISTEK conference, an event that I only watched in my twitterfeed last year. I was thrilled to see Burcu and Shelly face to face, because they were the first two teachers who I stumbled upon by pure chance one day in May 2009 and who introduced me to this amazing world of educators. It was great to talk to Sue, Elizabeth, Willy, Petra, Ken, Gavin, Mark, Russell, Dave, Anna, Luke, Lindsay, Eric and David without being limited to 140 characters. (No, I have nothing against 140, quite to the contrary, I love it, we all do). I got a chance to meet …

Embedded in EU

This year my students and I have started a new project with a school from Belgium. In the project, the students explore the world of widgets and "embeds", they collaborate and share what they have learned.

Their first task was to set up their blogs and create headers with images of the networks they are "embedded" in. In order to make posters for headers they used MS AutoCollage. The full version of Autocollage can be downloaded from the Partners in Learning website and it's absolutely free for educators.

Our students come from two different countries, but their networks seem to be so similar - almost all of them feel "embedded" in Facebook and YouTube. In the video below you can see how creative the students are. We are also holding a competition to choose the nicest header. Feel free to drop by and cast your vote.

Twitter, anyone?

Recently I've become an associate partner in a newly launched European project called APLaNet (Autonomous "Personal Learning Networks" for Language Teachers). The aim of the project is to introduce language teachers to social networking sites and help them build their personal learning networks. You can read more about this exemplary project in the post by Burcu Akyol, one of the coordinators of the project.

I'm a strong supporter of social networks, especially Twitter, and I've already tried to introduce Twitter to newbies many times before - with a disastrous result! I failed every time but once. Now, I don't want to lament about that, but I've been thinking about what I've done wrong.

And I think I might know the reason why my mentees haven't made it further than a couple of introductory tweets. What they needed was a constant, gentle push, which I didn't give, simply because I didn't want to be a bore. I used to tell them that Twitter is…

E-safety in my classroom

In support of Safer Internet Day, my students and I did some of the actitivies I wrote about in my last post.

After seeing the video clip about parental protection and online dangers, my students took part in a walking debate. The idea for this activity came from the Debating the issues activity, which I downloaded from the excellent Think B4U Click Click website. However, unlike the suggested procedure, I decided to go paperless, so I created a short Power Point with five issues to be discussed. After reading out loud each of the statements, they took a stand and explained why they agree or disagree with it.

What really surprised me was the fact that most of the students feel safe on the Internet. Some of them supported their feeling of safety with the fact that teachers and parents constantly talk about it. Others explained that they are very careful about the stuff they publish on their blogs or on Facebook. Only some of them think that adjusting Facebook privacy settings keeps th…

E-Safety in the EFL classroom

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My students spend a lot of time on the Internet and even though they say they know absolutely everything about the perils of the virtual world, I strongly believe that every now and then this topic should be brought into discussion.

The most suitable occasion is of course Safer Internet Day, which will be celebrated on February 8. I think that teachers around the globe have the responsibility to dedicate at least part of their lesson to e-safety and help their students to acquire essential skills about the efficient, safe and more responsible use of the Internet.

Last week I held a webinar for Croatian teachers on how Safer Internet Day is celebrated around the world and I found some fabulous resources. So here are some that you might use in your classroom on Tuesday, or, as a matter of fact, on any other day of the year.

These two pages helped me find my way around the www resources:
Insafe, which is a network of national Awareness Centres in 27 countries in the European Union, Norway…

It's more than a game, it's your life!

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It's more than a game, it's your life! is the motto of Safer Internet Day 2011 which will be taking place on February 8. Safer Internet Day is observed every year in countries around the world. It is coordinated by the Insafe Network, co-funded by the European Union. Its main golas are to promote safer and more responsible use of the Interent and mobile technology by children and teenagers and to raise awareness about online safety issues.

A wide range of activities, initiated by the Croatian Teachers Network, will be conducted in Croatian schools, with contests, workshops and webinars being some of them. I'm delighted to be able to take an active role in the event with a webinar in which I'm going to talk about how this important event is celebrated in other countries.
So that's why I'm asking your, dear PLN, to share your best practices with me and my audience of teachers and parents. How have you celebrated this event over the past years? What do you plan to …

Moving forwards

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If a good beginning is half the battle, then I'm on the right track. It's still the early morning of 1/1/11, and I've already posted two comments to my virtual friends' blogs. Actually, I started writing comments last week, on the day I made my resolution and I really hope I'll keep it in 2011. Not so much because of the resolution itself, but because I know that commenting is the best way to connect and interact with like-minded teachers from all parts of the world.



So watch out for my name in the comment section of your posts, dear bloggers.
But not before Jan 10, because my travel bug has been bugging me for a while so next week I'll be trying to discover the secrets of the pyramids.